patents and trademarks to protect its intellectual property while a product is under development. However, once the product is ready, the firm is likely to enhance its replication capabilities and diminish its protection capabilities, by increasing its training budget and spending less on patent protection, which are decisions solely affecting the two components of the replication/protection dyad. As a consequence, employees in manufacturing facilities internalize the firm's recently created and acquired knowledge by learning by using or learning by doing. The knowledge becomes tacit, which protects the firm from imitation. Consequently, formal protection mechanisms become less important. This kind of meta-capability has not been explored in depth either theoretically or
Integrated knowledge-based view of the firm – February, 2001 29 empirically. Lei, Hitt and Bettis (1996) have postulated the existence of an organizational meta- learning capability that serves as the basis for building a firm's dynamic core competencies. They define a firm's core competencies as set of problem-defining and problem-solving insights that foster the development of idiosyncratic growth alternatives. Our concept expands this view by identifying specific capabilities, suggesting metrics by which they can be observed, and describing the relationship between them. Once researchers characterize the interdependencies between these capabilities, practicing managers can utilize the meta-capability that we postulate to gain competitive advantage. RESEARCH AGENDA The framework of the integrated knowledge-based theory of the firm that has been presented in this paper suggests several themes for future research. Comprehensiveness. In our analysis, we show that different authors emphasize various sources of knowledge and capabilities. Their conclusions result from their choice of topic and the theories they apply. Theories have a tendency to focus on only a subset of knowledge capabilities, e.g., knowledge creation. We provide a framework that shows various tensions among these contributions, not only at the level of basic assumptions, but also at the level of empirical phenomena. Hence, future empirical research needs to focus on the balance between capabilities, how firms invest to build capabilities, and how capabilities individually and in concert have an impact on firm performance (e.g., relative impact of each capability). Evolution. The knowledge-based theories of the firm as well as resource-based views have a tendency to look at the firm as an established entity, well endowed with resources, knowledge, and capability. However, the discussion of the meta-capability has shown that the stage of the life cycle may affect the manager’s choice of capabilities. That is, depending on the
Integrated knowledge-based view of the firm – February, 2001 30 where the firm is in the evolutionary cycle different capabilities will emerge as more or less relevant. For example, in the pioneering phase, creation, integration, and absorption could be the most relevant. In the growth phase, integration and absorption might be the most relevant. As
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